Strangers She Knows
September 19th, 2019 by diane92345

My review of Strangers She Knows:

 

In the stunning conclusion to the Cape Charade series, brain-damaged Kellen must fight with betrayed serial killer Mara. This is one case where the Strangers She Knows are not better than the devil she doesn’t know.

Kellen, Max, and Rae are finally settling into family life. Then three things happen to breach their peaceful life. First, Kellen still doesn’t have full use of her dominant right hand. Second, ten-year-old Rae is hitting the turbulent teens three years early by acting petulant and throwing dramatic tantrums. Worst of all, Kellen’s nemesis, Mara, has escaped from prison and is looking for revenge.

To avoid Mara, the family travels a circular route to a family-owned island off the California coast. The island is remote with no connection to the mainland other than a helicopter. No cellphone towers. No Wi-Fi. No telephone. No harbor. No mail. The family must rely on themselves for entertainment…and, if necessary, protection.

I loved the beginning of this book. It has almost gothic or historical fiction feel with the old mansion filled with convoluted rooms and secret passages on a desolate island. Rae and Kellen find a diary of a young girl explaining her restricted life during World War II and how a controlling father was embarrassed by his Japanese wife and half-Japanese daughter. That portion of the book was easily a 4.5 star read.

But then we get thrown into a standard thriller with Kellen fighting Mara to save herself and her family. It seemed formulaic to me. Plus most of the thriller’s plot was in the previous book in the series. This book resolves the cliffhanger from that book. However, I didn’t read the former book so it left me rather flat and seemed like only about a 3.5 star read.

Combining the two plots into one book is innovative but I don’t think it worked very well here. But as long as you know the book will seem languorous initially and picks up the pace at the midpoint, I think you will enjoy the characters and plots within Strangers She Knows. 4 stars!

Thanks to HQN, Harlequin Books, Partners In Crime Book Tours, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Strangers She Knows

by Christina Dodd

September 17, 2019

on Tour September 17 – October 1, 2019

Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, and Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd returns with the chilling finale to the Cape Charade trilogy.

I have three deadly problems:

    1. I’ve seriously offended a maniacal killer.
    2. I just had a bullet removed from my brain.
    3. My new daughter is growing up too fast—and she’s in the line of fire.

Living on an obscure, technology-free island off California means safety from the murderer who hunts Kellen Adams and her new family…or does it? Family time becomes terror time, until Kellen finds herself alone and facing an all-too-familiar psychopath. Only one can survive, and Kellen knows who must win…and who must die.

Be sure to also check-out the rest of the Cape Charade series, starting with DEAD GIRL RUNNING and WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, available now wherever books are sold.

Series STARRED reviews from Booklist

“From the unforgettable heroine with a past to the incisively etched cast of secondary characters to the brilliantly imaginative plot, Dodd is at her most wildly entertaining, wickedly witty best.” -Booklist STARRED review on DEAD GIRL RUNNING

“Featuring an unforgettable protagonist…who makes Jack Reacher look like a slacker when it comes to dispatching trouble, and an ingenious plot that includes plenty of white-knuckle twists and turns as well as some touching moments of mother-daughter bonding.” -Booklist STARRED review on WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER

“Dodd continues her addictively readable Cape Charade series featuring Kellen Adams with another white-knuckle tale that simply begs to be inhaled in one sitting. With a fascinating island setting that includes a spooky old mansion, a secondary storyline involving World War II, and an antagonist who could give Villanelle from Killing Eve a pointer or two, this is Dodd at her brilliant best.” -Booklist STARRED review on STRANGERS SHE KNOWS

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense Published by: HQN Books Publication Date: September 17, 2019 Number of Pages: 352 ISBN: 1335468331 (ISBN13: 9781335468338) Series: Cape Charade #3 Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Yearning Sands Resort Washington’s Pacific Coast This Spring Rae Di Luca stacked up her Level Three lesson books, opened the piano bench and put them away. She got out the Adult Course Level 1A book, opened it to “Silver Bells,” and put it on the music rack. “Mom, you have to practice.” Kellen didn’t look up from her book. “I know.” “When?” “When what?” “When are you going to do it?” “I’m at the good part. Let me finish this chapter.” “No, you have to practice now. You know it helps with your finger dexterity.” When had their roles reversed, Kellen wondered? When had ten-year-old Rae become the sensible adult and Kellen become the balky child? Oh yeah. When she had the brain surgery, her right hand refused to regain its former abilities, and the physical therapist suggested learning the piano. But there was a reason Kellen hadn’t learned to play the piano earlier in her life. She loved music—and she had no musical talent. That, added to the terrible atrophy that afflicted her fingers, made her lessons and practices an unsurpassed agony…for everyone. She looked up, saw Rae standing, poised between coaxing and impatience, and the Rolodex in Kellen’s punctured, operated-on and much-abused brain clicked in: RAE DI LUCA: FEMALE, 10YO, 5‘0″, 95LBS. KELLEN’S DAUGHTER. HER MIRACLE. IN TRANSITION: GIRL TO WOMAN, BLOND HAIR TO BROWN, BROWN EYES LIGHTENING TO HAZEL. LONG LEGS; GAWKY. SKIN A COMBINATION OF HER ITALIAN HERITAGE FROM HER FATHER AND THE NATIVE AMERICAN BLOOD FROM KELLEN; FIRST PIMPLE ON HER CHIN. NEVER TEMPERAMENTAL. KIND, STRONG, INDEPENDENT. Kellen loved this kid. The feeling was more than human. It was feral, too, and Kellen would do anything to protect Rae from threat—and had. “I know. I’m coming. It’s so much more fun to listen to you play than practice myself. You’re good and I’m…awful.” “I’m not good. I’m just better than you.” Rae came over and wrapped her arms around Kellen’s neck, hugged and laughed. “But Luna is better than you.” “Don’t talk to me about that dog. She howls every time I sit down at the piano. Sometimes she doesn’t even wait until I start playing. The traitor.” Kellen glared at the dog, and once again her brain—which had developed this ability after that shot to the head—sorted through the files of identity cards to read: LUNA: FEMALE, FULL-SIZED POODLE/AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG/AT LEAST ONE OTHER BREED, 50LBS, RED COAT, BROWN EYES, STRONGLY MUSCLED. RESCUED BY RAE AND MAX WHILE KELLEN RECOVERED FROM SURGERY. FAMILY MEMBER. RAE’S FRIEND, COMPANION, PROTECTOR. MUSIC LOVER. Luna watched Kellen in return, head resting on her paws, waiting for her chance to sing a solo protest to Kellen’s inept rendition of “Silver Bells.” “Everybody’s a critic.” Rae set the timer. “Come on. Ten minutes of scales, then you only have to practice for thirty minutes.” “Why do I have to practice ‘Silver Bells’? Christmas isn’t for seven months.” “So you’ll have mastered it by the time the season rolls around.” “I used to like that song.” “We all used to like that song.” Rae took Kellen’s left hand and tugged. “Mom, come on. You know you feel better afterward.” Kellen allowed herself to be brought to her feet. “I’m going to do something wild and crazy. I’m going to start learning ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ It’s the next song in the book, and I like it.” “You can learn anything you want after you practice your scales and work on ‘Silver Bells’ for fifteen minutes.” No one wanted to be inside today, certainly not Rae Di Luca, certainly not Kellen Adams Di Luca, certainly not upstairs in their private quarters in the Yearning Sands Resort. Not when spring had come to the Washington state Pacific Coast. April and May’s drenching rains turned the world a soggy brown. Then, on the first of June, one day of blazing sunshine created green that spread across the coastal plain. Kellen made her way through the ten minutes of scales—the dog remained quiescent for those—then began plunking out “Silver Bells.” As she struggled with the same passage, her right hand fingers responding only sporadically, Luna started with a slight whine that grew in intensity. At the first high howl, Kellen turned to the dog. “Look, this isn’t easy for me, either.” Luna sat, head cocked, one ear up, one ear down, brown eyes pleading with her. “I would love to stop,” Kellen told her and turned back to the piano. “How about a different tune? Let’s try ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’” She played the first few notes and out of the corner of her eye, she saw the dog subside. Then, as she worked on a tricky passage, made the same mistake, time after time, the dog sat up again, lifted her nose and howled in mourning for the slaughter of the song. Rae giggled, and when her mother glowered, the child controlled herself. “Come on, Luna, I’ll take you outside.” The dog didn’t budge. “She thinks she’s helping you,” Rae explained. “Come on, Luna. Come on!” She coaxed her out the door, turned back to Kellen and said sternly, “Twenty more minutes!” “Yeah, yeah.” Kellen struggled on, trying to make her recalcitrant fingers do her bidding. Even when she finally got the notes right, it wasn’t a piano tune so much as jack-in-the-box music. When at last the timer went off, she slumped over the keyboard and stared at the fingers of her right hand. They were trying to atrophy, to curl in and refuse to do her bidding ever again. But the physical therapists assured her she could combat this. She had to create new nerve ways, train another part of her brain to handle the work, and since two hands were better than one and her right hand was her dominant hand, the battle was worth fighting. But every day, the forty minutes at the keyboard left her drained and discouraged. Behind her, Max said, “Turn around and let me rub your hands.” She noticed he did not say, That was good. Or even, That was better. Max didn’t tell lies. Kellen sighed and swiveled on the piano bench. Again that Rolodex in her brain clicked in: MAX DI LUCA: MALE, 38YO, 6’5″, 220LBS, ITALIAN-AMERICAN, FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER. HANDSOME, TANNED, CURLY BLACK HAIR, BROWN EYES SURROUNDED BY LONG BLACK LASHES. ONCE HIGH UP IN THE DI LUCA FAMILY CORPORATION, STEPPED DOWN TO RAISE HIS DAUGHTER, NOW DIRECTOR OF THE FAMILY’S YEARNING SANDS RESORT ON THE WASHINGTON COAST. KIND, GENEROUS, RESPONSIBLE, LOVING. A STICKLER FOR DUTY. FAR TOO MUCH WILLPOWER, WHICH WAS IRRITATING TO KELLEN IN MATTERS RELATING TO THEIR MARITAL STATE. He took her right hand gently in both of his and, starting at the wrist, he massaged her palm, her thumb, her fingers. He used a lavender-scented oil, and stretched and worked the muscles and bones while she moaned with pleasure. He listened with a slight smile, and when she looked into his face, she realized his lips looked fuller, he had a dark flush over his cheekbones and his nostrils flared as he breathed. She looked down at his jeans, leaned close and whispered, “Max, I’m done with practice. Why don’t we wander up to our bedroom and I’ll rub your…hand, too.” He met her eyes. He stopped his massage. Except for the rise and fall of his chest, he was frozen in that pose of incipient passion. Then he sat back and sighed. “Doctor says no.” “Doctor said be careful.” “Woman, if I could be careful, I would. As it is, nothing is best.” “I am torn between being flattered and frustrated.” She thought about it. “Mostly frustrated.” “I’m just fine.” Max didn’t usually resort to sarcasm, so that told her a lot. Married almost two years and no sex. He was a good man, but he was coming to the end of his patience. “If we’re refraining because we’re worried I’m going to pop a blood vessel while in the throes of passion, I’d like to point out there are solutions that you might enjoy.” “That isn’t fair to you.” “You’re massaging my hand. That’s pretty wonderful.” “Not the same.” Again he took her tired hand and went to work. Bitterly she said, “Kellen’s Brain. It’s like a bad sci-fi fantasy.” He laughed. “It’s improving all the time.” When he had made her hand relax and Kellen relax with it, he said, “I’ve been thinking—the Di Luca family owns Isla Paraíso off the coast of Northern California. The family bought the island seventy years ago with the idea of placing a resort on the island, but now that doesn’t seem likely. Someone needs to go there, look things over, make decisions about its fate.” Kellen nodded. “You want to go there? See what you think?” “Actually, I thought we should all go there.” He was still working her hand, but with a little too much forcefulness and concentration. “Ouch,” she said softly. He pulled away, horrified. “Did I hurt you?” “Not at all. Except that you’re treating me like a child.” “What do you mean?” “You’re not telling me what’s really going on. Why do you want to go to this island?” “I told you—” “I don’t doubt that what you told me is the truth. But it’s not all the truth. Max, what’s wrong?” Max sighed, an understatement of a sigh, as if he dreaded what he was about to say. “You’re not going to like it.” “I gathered that.” “Mitch Nyugen.” “What about him? He’s dead.” She remembered she couldn’t always trust Kellen’s Brain. “Isn’t he?” “Yes. He was buried in the Cape Charade cemetery.” “Was buried?” Unease stirred in her belly. “This week, his widow arrived from Wyoming.” “He wasn’t married.” That brain thing. “Was he?” “No.” Max was as sure as Kellen was not. “Yet the woman who claimed to be his widow had all the necessary paperwork to have his body exhumed.” “Oh, no.” “She had the coffin placed in the chapel. Last night, the undertaker, Arthur Earthman, found her there, with the coffin open. She murdered him, and almost killed his wife, Cynthia. The widow escaped ahead of the sheriff, and she left her calling card.” Kellen knew. She knew what Max was going to say. “She cut off Mitch’s hands.” “And took them.” Max looked up at her, his brown eyes wretched with fear. “Mara Philippi is back. And she’s here.” *** Excerpt from Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd. Copyright 2019 by Christina Dodd. Reproduced with permission from HQN Books. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Christina Dodd New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle.

Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at: christinadodd.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

 

Tour Giveaway:

TThis is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Christina Dodd and HQN Books. There will be one (1) winner. The winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on September 17, 2019 and runs through October 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Once Upon a Time in France
September 18th, 2019 by diane92345

Once Upon a Time in France tells the, so unbelievably it must be true, story of Romanian Jew Joseph Joanovici.

After immigrating to France in the 1920s, scrap metal makes him rich. When World War II begins, he slowly starts supplying the Nazis with metal after they occupy France. He uses his money and connections to the Germans to save his family and many other Jews if France from death. He also contributes some his war profits to the French Resistance. When the war ends, society has a difficult time characterizing him as either a hero or a villain. In truth, he was just a man making hard decisions. War truly is hell.

Joseph is a complex character stuck in a bad situation. After World War II, people wanted to glorify war heroes and vilify its villains. Unfortunately, Joseph was a little of both. The story is enthralling and little known in popular culture. Once Upon a Time in France does an excellent job drawing the reader into a completely different time and place. It forces contemplation of what the reader would do if in Joseph’s place. The artwork is beautiful and really enhances the feeling of immersion in French culture and the shock of war. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Dead Reckoning, Naval Institute Press and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

High Tide Club
May 7th, 2018 by diane92345

Romance, history, southern charm, friendships, family and secrets swirl in the High Tide Club.

At 99, Josephine is dying on her half of an island off the coast of Georgia. She calls Brooke, an attorney, to help search for her best friends, Ruth, Millie and Varina, from over 80 years earlier. Josephine had a falling out with her friends but now wants to deed her island home to them or their descendants. She also wants Brooke to stop the state from taking her home under eminent domain.

Brooke is a single mother with a 3-year old son and has a past as a runaway bride. She also has plenty of bills that are barely covered by her one-woman law firm. She needs to keep Josephine as a client despite the ethical issues of one of the friends being her grandmother. To setup the trust for Josephine, Brooke asks her old boss and mentor, Gabe, for help.

Alternating between the 1940s and current day, the reason for the friends’ schism and the disappearance of one’s finance is slowly revealed. The High Tide Club is a perfect beach read: light and frothy with a murderous undertow. It is recommended for both mystery, thriller, historical fiction and especially romantic suspense fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, Romance Tagged with: , ,

The Saboteur
August 22nd, 2017 by diane92345

A wonderfully unique thriller set in Nazi-occupied Norway during World War II. It is nice to see Mr. Gross step out from the shadow of his frequent co-author, James Patterson.

 

The Saboteur is the story of the daring members of the Norwegian resistance during World War II.  Norway has been taken over by the Nazi war machine at the start of the story.  A small band of Norwegian resistance fighters execute a daring plan to get to England.  With training and supplies, the men return to Norway to stop Hitler’s minions from creating an atom bomb.  A crucial ingredient is heavy water, which is only created in a heavily fortified Norwegian factory.  The location is ill suited to Allied bombs so a ground offensive must be attempted.

 

The plot of The Saboteur is based on a true story. It is great to read a fresh take on World War II. The story of the Norwegian resistance is a nice change from all the French resistance stories. I thought the icy, impassable terrain seemed like almost another villain fighting our heroes at every turn.

 

My only concern was how much of this story was fictional. War is hell but Kurt’s romantic issues seem a bit contrived. Still if the reader can suspend belief at times, the action sequences during the allied raids makes this book highly readable. It reads like an action thriller with Brad Pitt as Kurt.

 

I also have to applaud the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini. His accents appeared perfect and helped differentiate the huge number of characters in this novel.  Mr. Ballerini’s excitement while reading is definitely contagious. If possible, get the CD or Audible version to enjoy The Saboteur even more.

 

I received this audiobook in a Goodreads giveaway but that has not impacted my review.

Posted in Audiobooks, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

cover pic
November 18th, 2015 by diane92345

Excellent WWII Historical Romance.

I really enjoyed this historical romance set during World War II between a first generation Japanese woman and her American boyfriend. It was interesting to learn about the Relocation Centers used solely for people of Japanese descent, regardless of their citizenship status. It is interesting that we did not “relocate” any Germanic Americans. While the twists and turns of the love story are what kept me listening to this book, it also includes a mystery and courtroom drama within its story.

I always listen to audiobooks in the car during my commute to work.  This was the first book that I took inside to finish the last 30 minutes before dinner because I couldn’t wait until the next morning to hear the book’s conclusion.

The narrator was excellent. I could tell who was speaking without difficulty.

I received this audiobook from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Audiobooks, Diane's Favorites, Romance Tagged with: